More than 200 people have been able to buy a new home with help from a Scottish Government scheme, it has been revealed.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Help to Buy (Scotland) initiative was "crucial" in helping people get on the housing ladder or move to a new property.

The scheme, which was launched in September, allows both first-time buyers and existing homeowners buying a new-build house from a participating builder to get up to 20% of their purchase price.

The Scottish Government then takes out an equity stake in the property which the buyer has to repay at a later date.

By the start of the New Year a total of 1,205 applications for help had been received, according to the Scottish Government.

Meanwhile, from September until January 203 households had been successful in getting a new mortgage and purchasing a property under the scheme.

A total of 109 housebuilders have signed up for the initiative, with five lenders offering mortgages to buyers using it.

As the figures were revealed, the Deputy First Minister met a couple who have just moved into the new house they bought with the help of the scheme.

Phil and Joanne MacFarlane, both 31, used Help to Buy to purchase a four-bedroom house in Kilsyth, North Lanarkshire.

Mr MacFarlane, an IT manager, said: "We found out about the scheme through a friend who is also moving house using Help to Buy.

"We just moved in to our new home two weeks ago, Help to Buy allowed us to purchase our family home much sooner than we could ever have imagined.

"The process was very straightforward and hassle-free, we would highly recommend this scheme to others.

"We feel blessed we have been given the opportunity to buy this home, which without the Help to Buy scheme we would not have had, and hope to create many happy memories here as a family."

Ms Sturgeon said: "There is no doubt that getting onto, or moving up, the property ladder has become tougher in recent years, which is why our Help to Buy (Scotland) scheme is crucial in helping more households take that step.

"Large deposits are often a major barrier to would-be homeowners and it is fantastic to see the first results of our Help to Buy scheme, which has already helped almost 200 households into home ownership since it launched in September."

She added: "Help to Buy (Scotland) is not only helping people buy their first home, it also helps 'second-steppers' and others move to a new property and the popularity of the scheme is evident through the 1,200-plus applications that have been received so far.

"The scheme is also helping stimulate economic growth by supporting our housing industry - alongside our commitment to investing in affordable housing across Scotland."

Philip Hogg, chief executive of the industry body Homes for Scotland, said the shared equity scheme was "proving that it is possible for those buyers to realise their home-owning aspirations without the difficulties caused by large deposit requirements".

While he said it had had a "game-changing impact" since it was launched last September and was "acting as a positive indicator for industry recovery", Mr Hogg also said there were "still a number of barriers" in the housing market.

He said: "We therefore look forward to working alongside the Scottish Government to address these issues and seeing the Help to Buy scheme grow further as it continues to stimulate the building of much needed new homes, supporting vital jobs, skills and apprenticeships as well as boosting the wider economy along the way."